Reinventing the pizza, not the pizza box: Discourse in the wake of the Scalise shooting

Hop on in here around 55 minutes and give it four minutes or so. Ryan Singer and Johnny Z are discussing how we deal with each other, and right before the 58 minute mark, Singer comes up with this analogy:

"It doesn't matter if the pizza box changes, it's the pizza."

The pizza box, he says, is technology and society and who is president at any given time and what sorts of structures we live in, but we're the pizza.

It doesn't matter how fancy the box is, if the pizza doesn't change, it's still the same old pizza.

Singer's point here is that you can dress us up any way you want. You can make us high tech, you can let us read minds, you can make us invisible with mirrored clothing. Unless the change happens inside, we're still the same ol' same ol'.

The country saying for this is lipstick on a pig. You can dress it up all you want, it's still a pig.

If you're an asshole, you can put on a shirt that says "peace, love and tie dye" and go to yoga class and say "namaste," but you're still an asshole.

It doesn't matter what's going on on the outside.

Last Tuesday, June 13, was a quiet night at work. It might have been the quietest night of the Trump administration. The Calder Cup final wrapped up (that's the AHL championship — minor league hockey), but there was little else of note in any of our markets.

The next morning, we woke up to news that Rep. Steve Scalise and four others had been shot while practicing for the annual Congressional baseball game. Despite once being tied to White Supremacist David Duke — charges stemming from when Scalise thought he was attending a campaign rally that turned a little more sinister — he is generally well-liked by his colleagues in the House, whatever their party affiliation.

Something feels different about this than when Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot in early 2011.

In the Giffords shooting, the gunman had shown anti-government leanings, posting about mind control and that kind of things. He was out to get someone in the federal government and an opportunity presented itself with the Giffords rally.

In the Scalise shooting, someone who was politically active in a traditional sense — the gunman had volunteered on the presidential campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders (Sanders didn't equivocate on his views here) and had left home to be closer to Washington, where he apparently thought he could be more useful as an activist — went looking for Republicans to shoot.

In the Giffords case, the shooter was paranoid and looking for a way out. In the Scalise case, the shooter had tried to take a traditional route and given up.

The problem with dialogue in this country for the most part is we're no longer listening to each other. We're waiting for the other person to stop speaking so that we can start.

I'm generalizing, of course. There's good discussion and reasonable debate happening every day in every city.

It's just rarely on display in public. And never at the federal level.

Reaction since the Scalise shooting has been a little different. Apart from the partisan wrangling over guns — some of course calling for tighter gun control and others saying we should allow Congress to carry weapons — there have been calls for partisan unity that have been muted, where normally these are empty and grandstanded.

"We are united in our shock. We are united in our anguish," Speaker Paul Ryan said. "An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us."

Rep. Richard Neal, a Massachusetts Democrat, warned about a "deterioration in the manner we talk to each other."

Even President Donald Trump, not exactly known for muted responses and calm, non-partisan rhetoric, had only this to say:

This is a good time for a period of reflection for all of us. The seasons are changing. If you're reading this the day it publishes, the solstice is tonight just after midnight Eastern.

Take a couple of days and decide if you're going to spend the rest of your life speaking at — or worse, shouting over — people you disagree with, rather than actually listening to what they're saying and perhaps even taking it to heart, and letting it change your mind if it strikes that chord in you.

It's certainly time for our national pizza to evolve. Is it time for your pizza to change, too?

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Civility in disagreement
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